HRII Relay for Life

Adele Haag, center, sets up Relay for Life sponsors signs with her granddaughter, Madalynn Haag, 9, as set-up continues for the 2017 Relay for Life at the former McKinley YMCA in Champaign.

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Q: Is there still going to be a Relay for Life event in Champaign later this year?

A: The American Cancer Society fundraiser Relay for Life Champaign County is being replaced by a new event called Walk and Roll of Central Illinois.

For now, it’s scheduled for 2-6 p.m. Sept. 27 at Parkland College.

Whether it actually can be held at Parkland or winds up being converted to a virtual event will depend on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic and whether groups will be permitted to congregate in person this fall.

Jill Rannebarger, one of the planners, said participation in Relay for Life Champaign County had dropped off so much, it became necessary to try something new and different to help raise money for the cancer society.

If this event winds up taking place, Rannebarger said it will include (alcohol-free) tailgating sites opening at 1 p.m., food trucks, bands and an afternoon of activities for kids and adults, including a family bike ride, a rollerblade/skateboard obstacle course, a timed 5K walk and run, a survivor lap and awards ceremony.

If it can’t be held in person, she said, it will be converted to a virtual event, just as some other American Cancer Society fundraisers are taking place.

One coming up will be a virtual paint party at 6 p.m. May 29 on Zoom, with materials for participants dropped off no-contact style on their doorsteps, Rannebarger said.

Another is a virtual 5K in which participants are being invited to log at least 3.1 miles, while staying socially distant, between May 23 and June 1.

Anna Peters, community development manager for the American Cancer Society’s office in Springfield, said the organization hasn’t been canceling its spring and summer fundraising events so much as converting them to virtual events.

“Everything is just looking a little different, and we are trying to find the right way to go about it,” she said.

What Peters said has become the largest American Cancer Society fundraiser in Champaign County, Coaches vs. Cancer University of Illinois, would have been held in April. But this year’s event was suspended in March because of the pandemic.

With so much focus on the coronavirus, the needs of cancer patients may not be as visible these days, Peters said. But these patients and their families still need support.

“It’s a very long journey for people who have been diagnosed,” she said.